Amazon.com is announcing a new, cheaper version of the Kindle DX, its large-screen e-reader, in a bid to remain competitive against both rival devices and Apple’s iPad. Despite slashing the price of the original Kindle, and increasing the supported devices for its Kindle software, Amazon had left the Kindle DX relatively untouched until now.
That’s because, until this point, the market for larger-screen e-readers remained relatively uncompetitive. While the original Kindle, with its 6-inch screen, found itself battling similar form-factors in Barnes & Noble’s Nook-not to mention a sizable number of offerings from smaller competitors-the only devices to potentially challenge the Kindle DX remained firmly in development hell.
That was before the release of the Apple iPad, which also features a 9.7-inch screen and a robust selection of reading matter through its iBookstore. With more than 3 million units sold, the iPad presents a substantial competitive threat to the other players in the e-reader market, likely leading to the latter devices’ price cuts over the past few weeks. Now, it seems, Amazon has gotten around to executing a similar revamp for the Kindle DX.
In addition to a new slate-gray color for the outer shell, and a global 3G connection for downloading e-books, the newest version of the Kindle DX costs $379, versus $489 for the old version. Amazon also claims improvements to the e-ink screen, “with 50 percent better contrast for the clearest text and sharpest images.” The new Kindle DX will ship starting July 7.
The retailer also seemed to take a few backhand swipes at the iPad, or even tablet PCs in general.
“Unlike most electronic devices, we wanted to keep the Kindle simple,” reads a note on Amazon’s Kindle DX page. “Kindle DX is wireless and ready to use right out of the box-no setup, no cables, no software to install, no computer required.”
Ever since the Kindle DX’s release in 2009, Amazon has attempted to cast the device as wildly versatile, highlighting its ability to display professional documents, via a built-in PDF reader, in addition to traditional e-books. At the time, this seemed a countermove to smaller manufacturers attempting to leverage the business market as a potential niche for their own e-readers; but in the wake of this January’s Consumer Electronics Show, where many of those companies showed off their devices as the way of the future, those e-readers have yet to make a marketplace appearance. Instead, the iPad became Amazon’s primary threat, along with Barnes & Noble’s Nook.
In addition to e-books, Amazon is also offering up a broad selection of newspapers, blogs and other e-periodicals as Kindle DX material. Besides the iPad and Nook, the Kindle will face increased competition this summer from Google Editions, the search engine’s own attempt to make e-books available through any browser or Web-enabled device, such as laptops and tablet PCs. That places Google in direct competition with the Kindle e-reader software, which is available for PCs, and a variety of mobile devices including the iPad and Google Android smartphones.